We've spoken out here before about the damage done — both to IT certification as a whole and to individual careers — by exam candidates who cheat to pass a certification exam. Most people in certification can probably empathize with anyone experiencing the various stresses that cause people to resort to gimmicks and shortcuts to pass an exam. Yet because of the ripple effects of cheating, a certification cheater really is the proverbial bad apple that spoils the whole bunch.
Science often provides the solution to thorny problems, and recent breakthroughs in cognitive pyschology could help to make certification cheating a thing of the past. In recent months a team of researchers split between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Johns Hopkins University has been fine tuning a neural mapping procedure that lets supercomputers read, process, and interpret synaptic overlays. In essence, we're on the verge of being able to read minds.
To be clear, we're not talking about reading minds in the Amazing Kreskin sense of staring intently at a willing or unwilling subject and then announcing the actual content of whatever thoughts are in their head at that moment. The process now being perfected by the MIT and Johns Hopkins researchers is about scanning the brain and then interpreting the results of those scans. It's about gathering and sifting through massive amounts of data to determine what's stored in your brain.
Rather than guessing that you're thinking about the Queen of Spades, or the color blue, the procedure would allow researchers to determine what you actually know, or have learned, or have been told and believed, about various topics and subjects. Brain scans are not invasive and scanning technology has steadily progressed since its introduction in the early decades of the 20th century. Recent advances in Big Data processing are the key that is unlocking these new techniques.
Traditional educational testing, as we know and experience it today, will soon change dramatically. Instead of reading and responding to questions, or working through various lab-based problems, an exam candidate would simply submit to a brain scan, which would then reveal exactly what they do and don't know. Cheating wouldn't even be possible. The MIT and Johns Hopkins team is set to release significant findings on April 15. Today is April 1, so that's just two weeks away.
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